Significant Investments in Technology
The largest retailer of contact lenses in the U.S., 1-800 Contacts, today announced a definitive agreement under which global investment firm KKR will acquire the company from AEA Investors. The sale follows many years of strong growth and technology innovation for the vision brand, which was purchased by AEA Investors in 2008. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
As a pioneering Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand, innovation is central to 1-800 Contacts’ strategy and differentiation. Over the past few years, the company has made several investments in technology and expanding its offerings, including the acquisition of vision technology startup 6over6 in late 2019 and launching new app-based offerings including ExpressExam, which enables consumers to renew contact lens prescriptions online in minutes. Moreover, Lingo Eyewear, the sister brand of 1-800 Contacts also introduced Rx Reader, an app that extracts optical parameters directly from a pair of prescription glasses.
Driving Innovation in the Optical Space
1-800 Contacts was founded 25 years ago to offer consumers a better way to buy contact lenses. Since the very beginning, the company has kept the customer at the center of everything it does, Pleased with this acquisition, John Graham, CEO of 1-800 Contacts said, “Its gratifying that KKR sees such incredible value in our brand and that they will continue to support us in doing what we do best – delivering the best vision care to consumers with the highest quality customer service.”
Officials of KKR too were excited to invest behind John and his world-class team due to their customer-centric and technology-enabled business. “We believe 1-800 Contacts’ singular focus on providing a consistent and high-quality customer, fuelled by industry-leading capabilities and telemedicine solutions, positions them well to continue to drive innovation in the optical space,” said Felix Gernburd, Managing Director at KKR. The global investment giant is making the investment through its Core Investments strategy, which represents capital targeting longer-term opportunities.